A classically trained multi-instrumentalist, Don Laka began his career in the ‘70s and then joined the seminal jazz outfit Sakhile in the early ‘80s. Already an established musician by this time, Laka was at the forefront of exploring the latest synth sounds of the day. Being introduced to synthesizers by Harari's Alec Khaoli, Don soon began experimenting with different synths like the Oberheim, Juno, and Prophet 5 while using a Commodore 64 to sequence them.
Constantly striving for the latest sounds, Laka’s early explorations culminated in his debut solo album, I Wanna Be Myself. “I went and did an album, recorded tracks at Downtown Studios [in downtown Johannesburg]. Most of the album, except for ‘Let’s Move the Night,’ was done straight with a Fairlight at a different studio, of the guy that owned the Fairlight, Adrian Strydom. He was the only guy in the country who had a Fairlight, I think on the continent.
“This was the first commercial record made on a Fairlight in this country. I remember the other instrument I used was Jupiter 8, which was a very expensive Roland synth, and I used a Juno-60. I would layer them. The only thing I programmed was the drums. You can hear the snare sound, I think it was a mix of some cracked bottles and something that we just mixed.
Holed up in the studio, Laka remembers getting special input on ‘I Wanna Be Myself’ from master bassist Bakithi Khumalo, who would also feature prominently on Graceland. ”I remember I played all the instruments on it. I played bass, I played all. Bakithi walked into the studio and I said, ‘You know, I’m not a bass player. Baks, do you wanna do it?’ And he nailed it, in one take!”
|A1||Don't You Like It|
|A2||Need To Love|
|A3||Falling In Love With You|
|B2||I Wanna Be Myself|
|B3||Let's Move The Night|